Impact of COVID‑19 on Health Care Access, Utilization, Delivery, and Outcomes for Patients with Pulmonary Diseases in Alberta (INCLUDE Study)
The COVID‑19 pandemic has profoundly impacted everyone, even those who have never had COVID-19. Both positive (greater accessibility via telemedicine) and negative consequences (less access to testing) on healthcare may have resulted. We suspect that patients with lung diseases have suffered worse healthcare experiences, access, and outcomes. Thus, we propose a multi-pronged approach to studying this issue: AIM 1: Health administrative data from Alberta will be analyzed to describe healthcare use and outcomes (e.g. hospitalizations and death) across a range of lung diseases. We will compare data from the 18 months before the pandemic to the 18 months after the pandemic started. This will demonstrate how utilization of healthcare resources has changed for patients with lung disease at the population level. We will also stratify these analyses by postal code (rural versus urban), sex, and socioeconomic data to determine if these factors are associated with any changes in health care use and outcomes. AIM 2: We will conduct surveys and interviews of healthcare providers and of patients with a broad range of lung diseases to understand how COVID‑19 has affected healthcare delivery, access and utilization. Since patients with complex lung diseases are often marginalized and stigmatized, our focus on the patient experience will not only allow us to understand how COVID‑19 has impacted their care, but also understand what has worked well for them. We anticipate that perceptions of the impact of COVID‑19 (Aim 2) may be discordant with the administrative data findings (Aim 1). Thus, an integrative mixed-methods approach will allow a more complete understanding of the true impact of the pandemic on the health and wellness of patients with lung diseases in Alberta. This study is designed with the end knowledge users in mind (policymakers, academic and community healthcare providers) such that lessons learned can inform future health care policy to improve patient care.